‘Extraordinarily lame’ excuse points to ulterior motive – Breytenbach lawyer

2012-06-25 15:59

Senior state prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s lawyer has slammed the NPA for what he called an “extraordinarily lame” and “cack-handed” explanation of why Breytenbach’s letter of suspension appears backdated.

The Johannesburg Labour Court today heard heated argument in Breytenbach’s challenge of her suspension from the NPA.

Breytenbach claims that she was unlawfully suspended because of her insistence on prosecuting former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

Breytenbach claims that there was an “ulterior motive” behind her suspension because certain people within the NPA wanted to protect Mdluli.

Advocate Andrew Redding SC, appearing for Breytenbach, argued that the fact that acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba dated Breytenbach’s suspension letter April 23, but that it was only delivered to her seven days later was evidence of such an “ulterior motive”.

“Why is there a seven day gap?” asked Redding.

He said that Jiba’s explanation that the letter got caught up in a “logistical quagmire” was an “extraordinarily lame and “cack-handed way” of explaining the delay.

“Is this how the NPA operates?” he asked.

The original complaint regarding Breytenbach’s conduct in regards to the Imperial Crown Trading/Sishen Iron Ore mining rights investigation was lodged with the police on October 31.

The NPA alleges that Breytenbach, who was investigating a complain of alleged fraud into a mineral rights application by ICT, asked Advocate Mike Hellens to see if he could negotiate with an ICT employee to become a state witness.

Hellens had previously acted on a watching brief for Sishen and had not been appointed as a prosecutor by the NPA.

But Redding yesterday said that Breytenbach was only notified of the complaint a month after it was lodged, on November 25, and that she did not hear anything further about it until Febrary this year.

Redding questioned this timing, saying that the “only thing that had happened in the interim is that (Breytenbach) has pursued Mdluli”.

Redding did not mince his words when it came to Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, the head of the NPA’s specialised commercial crimes unit.

It was Mrwebi who ordered Breytenbach to drop the fraud and corruption investigation into Mdluli.

“(Breytenbach) was stymied by Mrwebi in the most preposterous manner,” he said.

Redding was referring to the fact that Mrwebi had instructed Breytenbach to withdraw charges against Mdluli because he felt it was the preserve of the inspector-general of intelligence to investigate such crime.

This was despite the fact that the inspector-general of intelligence had already written a letter to say it did not have the jurisdiction to investigate the crimes.

William Mokhari, acting for the NPA, instead said the Breytenbach was attempting to “run her disciplinary (hearing) through the labour court”.

Questioned by Judge Hamilton Cele about an “ulterior motive” in the disparity of dates regarding her letter of suspension, Mokhari said “all of us suspect every day, that does not give us the right to come to court”.

Mokhari said allegations made against Jiba were “malicious and reckless because they are not backed by a single shred of evidence”.

The charges against Breytenbach relate to the ICT case, her refusal to hand over her laptop to NPA officials, talking to the media and running a side business without authorisation by renting out her flat and stabling horses.

The disciplinary hearing is expected to resume next month.

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